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Calls to declare locust disaster in Northern Cape

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It is now time for disaster to be declared in the affected areas, allowing the National Treasury to release funds to help with the fight.

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CALLS have gone out to declare a locust disaster in the Northern Cape Province.

The DA has written to Thoko Didiza, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, asking that she requests her counterpart, Dr Nkosazana Zuma, Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, to declare a locust disaster not only in the Province, but also in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, and Free State.

All these provinces have been severely affected by the locust plague.

Once these areas have been declared disaster areas, Didiza will be able to put together a budget and submit a requisition to the National Treasury for funding to combat the locust outbreak.

In a press statement the DA said that this will prevent the plague from spreading to other provinces.

“Commandos and farmers are experiencing numerous challenges, including the delivery of protective clothing, late supply of prescribed toxic chemicals, and late payments by the department, to name a few,” the party said.

“There have been reports that several commandos and farmers who assisted in the locust outbreak response have not been paid since November 2021. The DA is concerned that if personnel are not duly compensated, they might become demoralised and therefore unable to function optimally.

“We will need a more focused approach if we are to fully combat the locust plague. We need to draw lessons from our Southern African Development Countries (SADC) region partners, who have been struggling to contain the plague in their respective countries.”

It is now time for disaster to be declared in the affected areas, allowing the National Treasury to release funds to help with the fight, the statement said.

The DA also suggested that disaster be declared in the affected areas for three months, followed by a monthly review thereafter.

Although the government has already allocated R5 million to help combat this problem, the DA called for an increased budget through a temporary declaration of disaster before there is more damage to the crops.

In January the DFA reported on large swarms of brown locusts invading the Northern Cape and have been spotted in Upington, Kakamas, Keimoes, Sutherland and Colesberg.

Spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Land Reform and Rural Development, Zandisile Luphahla, at the time said they had noted calls from members of the public regarding the flying brown locust outbreak in various towns.

“This is as a result of hoppers in our Province reaching a flying stage. An uncontrollable influx of the swarm (flyers) which have crossed borders from Namibia into our Province, through areas such as Pofadder, Pella, Onseepkans, Noenieput, Askham, Springbok and Blad-Grond.”

At the time he also stated that the locust outbreak was in a “manageable state”, adding that “even though the department has managed to control the swarm, there is a high possibility of a huge outbreak as a new generation of locusts were spotted in Springbok, Askham, Blad-Grond, Colesberg and Sutherland”.

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